During Book Club we often discuss an author's intentions. I find it terribly enjoyable to imagine as a group what prompted a writer to take that angle, to use that voice, to create that character. Great writing, I believe, is multi-faceted and I appreciate hearing from my fellow members of the Chesterton Literary Society how a particular piece of literature struck them personally. I am more than grateful as well for the reflections I've read from my fellow bloggers participating in"Poetry Wednesday."I've learned to revere poetry as I never have before, to discover loveliness and significance in even the quietest and smallest elements of my day-to-day existence, because of them.
Yes, I like viewing artwork through the eyes of others, but this week I was quite pleased to not only find a poem I relished reciting out loud (ooh, the figurative language abounds) but also an introduction (see below) from the author herself explaining what inspired her to express her description of what recovery looks, smells and feels like in that particular way. I, too, have experienced little deaths and resurrections along this journey (sometimes several in a single afternoon). I've "converted to crumpledness" (Isn't that phrase delicious?) only to then, eventually, pick back up that scalding iron I'd felt sure I was too feeble (and too hopelessly wrinkled) to ever successfully wield again (As a mother I've had to learn to accept, not fight or wish away, the changing seasons of my life). I so hope this poem reminds you to be patient with yourself and with the whole salvific process. Sometimes we walk, and sometimes we need to be carried. Thank you for allowing me, through your kindness, prayers and continuous quest for love, faith and beauty, to hitch a ride on your shoulders when I've been far too exhausted to take even a single step forward on my own.
Peace to you!
There's a poem by George Herbert, the metaphysical poet, that I've always really liked. It's called 'The Flower' and in the poem he uses the flower as a metaphor for his own spiritual death and recovery - the death of the flower in winter. And there are some wonderful lines in the poem: "And now in age, I dream again,/After so many deaths I live and write;/I once more smell the dew and rain/And relish versing:" And they seem extraordinary lines to me - because I like walking in the rain, because they seem so sensual for someone to have written in the 17th century. And because it was always a favourite poem, one day I was ironing - and all my life I hated ironing - and suddenly I sort of smelt the scent coming off the cloth (of course very horrible cheap scents which are put into washing powder) but it was suddenly a wonderful feeling and it connected with a feeling for me that my life had got a lot better. And so I used the idea of the Herbert poem - this idea of a spiritual death and recovery - to write my own poem but using the metaphor of ironing.
by Vicki Feaver
I used to iron everything:
my iron flying over sheets and towels
like a sledge chased by wolves over snow;
the flex twisting and crinking
until the sheath frayed, exposing
wires like nerves. I stood like a horse
with a smoking hoof,
inviting anyone who dared
to lie on my silver padded board,
to be pressed to the thinness
of dolls cut from paper.
I’d have commandeered a crane
if I could, got the welders at Jarrow
to heat me an iron the size of a tug
to flatten the house.
Then for years I ironed nothing.
I put the iron in a high cupboard.
I converted to crumpledness.
And now I iron again: shaking
dark spots of water onto wrinkled
silk, nosing into sleeves, round
buttons, breathing the sweet heated smell
hot metal draws from newly-washed
cloth, until my blouse dries
to a shining, creaseless blue,
an airy shape with room to push
my arms, breasts, lungs, heart into.